Reactor

Retrofuturist 1950s Comics Imagine China in the 21st Century

by An Xiao on June 6, 2012

According to this comic, by 2010, students would have intellectual freedom. (ll images via ChinaSmack, originally posted on Sina Weibo)

LOS ANGELES — Ah, the 1950s. Here in America, it was the peak of the baby boom, a glorious post-War era filled with hope and optimism.  In China, the decade also marked a new beginning: in 1949, Mao Zedong founded the People’s Republic of China.

Before 1950, workers were oppressed. Good thing that kind of thing never happens anymore. (click to enlarge)

Periods of great change and optimism lend themselves to futurism, and China was no exception. A recent series of comics that appeared on Sina Weibo show the Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda comics in 1950, depicting China 60 years later, i.e., in 2010.

Many of the comics resound in the current era. There’s the image of Chinese currency, once suffering under the American dollar, emerging triumphant as the celebrated currency. As China’s economy grew to the second largest in the world, and stories of a financially struggling European Union hoping China would help them out, the comic seemed strangely relevant.

Others, however, show how little China has changed. One comic shows citizens trying to find housing, only to struggle with high rents. Another shows 1950s citizens being exploited by their bosses, a problem that the comic claims would have been erased by now.

It’s an amazing set of images, a retrofuturist take on a new country’s hopes and ambitions. You can see the entire set, translated, on ChinaSmack.

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